One out of every eight couples struggles with infertility of some kind. One out of eight!
You are not alone.
Over the last three years I have become more public about our struggles with infertility and more specifically the emotional roller coaster that it is. The reason I have become more open about our journey is because we made the decision to investigate adoption and went to an informational meeting with Independent Adoption Center. It was not a well attended meeting, just us and one other couple, due to weather. During the meeting they had us watch a video about adoption from families who placed through them. They spoke to us about the basics like costs, home studies and what to expect. We talked a little with the other couple and learned that they had one child biologically but were unable to conceive again. We didn’t share much of our struggle because at this point we were not really sure what was happening and had no experience with infertility.
Infertility is a disease that comes in many forms. Our form is PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). In the past I have mentioned this being the cause of our infertility, but I have not really shared what this is and how it affects me on a day to day basis.
Let me start by saying that, PCOS is a hormonal endocrine disorder that occurs in women. Women who suffer PCOS tend to have higher testosterone levels that prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg each month, thus causing difficulty conceiving. PCOS accounts for 70% of infertility and there is not one test alone that can determine if you have it. However, PCOS causes a long list of symptoms. This list comes from the PCOS Foundation.
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Irregular periods also called Oligomenorrhea
- Weight gain, Overweight (difficulty losing weight)
- Difficulty losing weight
- Excess hair growth on face and body- called Hirsutism
- Darkened patches of skin
- Skin tags
- Thinning hair
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High cholesterol and high triglycerides
- High blood pressure
- Cysts on the ovaries (multiple)
- Pelvic pain
- Sleep apnea (when breathing stops for a short period of time while asleep)
- Decreased sex drive
- Increase in stress levels
Everything highlighted in red are things I have experienced at one point or are ongoing. Fifteen out of twenty is pretty high. It is also pretty damning evidence that PCOS is the culprit of our infertility. All of these symptoms can lead to a lot of self doubt and shame. I know this! I live this!
In high school and college my hair used to be so thick and wavy that I hated when I couldn’t get it straight. Now I long for those times that have been replaced with real concern over going bald. I actually had a skin tag removed today from my underarm that I have had since I was a kid. I have always been very self conscience of it. It was even biopsied when I was younger to make sure it was benign. I have had an onset of excessive facial hair growth that makes me crazy! I would love to have laser hair removal for this at some point. My weight has been a real struggle for years. A month ago when I went to the doctor for check up the RN told me I was probably pre-diabetic solely based on looking at my weight and past blood draws. Thankfully I am not as the tests proved, but type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance are on the PCOS list above. So while I am not right now, I could be later down the road.
All of these things, all of them, make me incredibly judgmental about myself. I have always struggled with feeling inadequate compared to my peers. It has led to having a lack of trust. I find it hard to open up to others for fear of rejection. It is something I am working on and will probably always be.
After that initial adoption meeting, I dove head first into learning what I could about adoption, IVF and infertility. You know what happened? I learned that we are not alone with infertility. I read a lot of blogs, that I still read today, that help me to know I am not alone. I found out several of my sorority sisters, childhood friends and co-workers also struggle with infertility. Each story is different, as is the cause of infertility, but the sadness and longing to become a parent is not. The emotional support and understanding that I have received is beyond expectation. It is with that thought in mind that I constantly share our story with those who are willing to listen. I want to make sure that others know they are not alone. We do not have to feel shame. We are not broken. We are just on a different journey than where society tells us we should be.
We are not alone!